LAKESIDE co-promoter Jon Cook believes it is a travesty that his side are being forced to ride at Swindon this evening, and he has called for the Elite League season to be extended in future years.
The Hammers will be without heat leader Peter Karlsson and Kim Nilsson because the pair are competing in the Swedish Elitserien play-offs, meaning former Robins Scott Nicholls and Ryan Fisher have been drafted in as guests in a meeting hastily arranged to be completed before Wednesday’s cut-off point.
The Purfleet side continue to operate rider replacement following Jonas Davidsson’s decision to quit British racing, and Cook believes the state of his side at such a vital stage shows exactly why the season should be extended.
“We are really not happy about having to fulfil this meeting to be honest, and it is a travesty that we have to really,” he said.
“Rightly or wrongly we have to meet the cut-off date and we have been ordered to come, but there is a cut-off date that needs to be stuck to and we will do it.
“The amount of rain we have had is unprecedented and has caused problems all summer, and all of the clubs have done their best to fulfil their fixtures, even if it meant running two meetings in a week which is not what our supporters want.
“I don’t see why the play-offs have to be run in back-to-back weeks, and I think we could have both legs of the semi-final in one week and then both legs of the final in another, and that would let us push the regular season back until the start of October.
“This is something that needs to be discussed at the AGM, because it needs to be resolved quickly.”
The Hammers still have a mathematical chance of sneaking into the end of season play-offs, but Cook believes they face an uphill struggle at the end of what has been an emotionally exhausting season.
“There is still a chance but we have to be honest, our hopes of making it into the top four are slipping away,” he said.
“Swindon and Poole are the two outstanding teams in the league, but at the start of the season I firmly believe there were three class acts, and I know Gary Patchett (Robins co-promoter) believes we would have been one of the teams up there.
“It has been a hard season with what has happened to Lee (Richardson), and he and PK (Karlsson) were only just starting to get into their stride when everything happened.
“We lost Richie Worrall to injury as well and, although Justin Sedgmen has been exceptional in his place, if Lee and Richie had been alive and fit respectively I think we would have been challenging.”